Skip to comments.Is Java as we know it doomed?
Posted on 04/25/2009 10:47:16 PM PDT by libh8er
While Oracle and Sun Microsystems are hailing Oracle's purchase of Sun  as a big boost for Java, others are not so sure, questioning what kind of control Oracle might try to exercise over the popular platform that has driven so many enterprise applications since it was first developed in 1995. Observers also expect Oracle to make a go of trying to make more money off of Java than Sun ever could.
Sun has tried to leverage Java as a lead-in to selling services, but without much success. By contrast, Oracle is very disciplined about extracting money from its technologies.
"Java is one of the computer industry's best-known brands and most widely deployed technologies, and it is the most important software Oracle has ever acquired," the companies said in a joint statement announcing the acquisition. "Oracle Fusion middleware, Oracle's fastest growing business, is built on top of Sun's Java language and software. Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community."
[ What on earth was Oracle thinking when it bought Sun? InfoWorld's Neil McAllister shows what the real motivation may be . | Sun's efforts to make Java open source have also led to decidedly mixed reviews . ]
Oracle's commitment to invest in Java may mean it will go full-force at trying to make money off of Java, a path Sun has not pursued strongly. "I think that they will realize that they want as many people using Java as possible so that's good for their middleware," said Rod Johnson, CEO of SpringSource and developer of the popular open source Spring Framework for Java application development. The acquisition was partly defensive because Oracle probably did not want competitor IBM owning the Java language, he added.
Oracle has been "better at making money off everything than Sun was before," concurred Vivek Ranadive, CEO of Tibco, a middleware company that competes with some Oracle offerings. "They're not beyond finding ways to make more money off something, and it's always at the customers' expense." When buying companies previously, Oracle has sought to increase maintenance revenues, he said.
Does Java's open source status help it? Theoretically, Sun is not supposed to be the owner of Java: It has offered up its version of Java to open source. The Java Community Process (JCP) has been set up as a multiparty organization to amend the platform. But Sun has remained the dominant force in Java, with the company always at the forefront of improving it.
The open-sourcing of Java has put the technology out into the community at large, and that is where innovation in the platform now comes from, Johnson stressed. "The innovation in Java comes largely from open source," Johnson said Monday, reaffirming similar remarks he had made last month when it was IBM, and not Oracle, that was supposed to buy Sun . "The language itself is open-sourced. I don't really see [Java] as something that Oracle can own in a meaningful sense."
Less optimistic, though, is Tibco's Ranadive, who asked whether Oracle can be trusted not to manipulate Java to its own ends. Oracle competitors such as SAP rely on Java, and they now must consider the impacts of the Sun acquisition, he said: "As you continue to put more eggs in the Java basket and your biggest competitor owns Java, what you do?"
And Ranadive doesn't think Java's open source status means all that much. In Java's case, the label "open source is a bit of an oxymoron. It's really not open as such," he says. "All control [of an open source software project] rests with the party that offers it. It used to be Sun and now it'll be Oracle." Ranadive anticipates Oracle will dominate the JCP.
SpringSource's Johnson also expressed fears over Oracle's effects on the JCP. He serves as a JCP executive committee member. "I think that there will be a lot of concern about Oracle potentially making the rules for Java," he said. Ironically, that fear may force the open source community to more aggressively assert stewardship of Java, he added.
Neil McAllister, an InfoWorld blogger who speculated earlier this month that Oracle might buy Sun , anticipates changes in the JCP. "I think you will see Oracle having a lot more heft in the JCP but also maybe it will change direction a little bit, as far as what areas of Java development it sees as being important or relevant," he said.
How Oracle's ownership may help Java At the Eclipse Foundation, an open source tools organization that has counted Oracle as a member but not Sun, Executive Director Mike Milinkovich sees the merger as a "very positive sign for Java and open source." Oracle "will be able to provide the resources and leadership to continue the innovation in the Java community. I see their support for OSGi  and Eclipse Equinox  as being key to driving the next generation of runtime middleware based on the OSGi standard," he added.
Also optimistic is Matt Asay, vice president of development at Alfresco, who said Oracle will be good for Java. "In some ways, it might even be better than Sun." That's because Sun has "never been willing to fully let go of the reins. Oracle doesn't need to monetize it directly. It just wants to make sure that Java flourishes," he said.
Battles with IBM foreseen Bill Roth, vice president of product management at GSI Commerce and a former Sun and BEA employee who left BEA after Oracle acquired the company last year, was not optimistic about Java's fate. "I believe that this acquisition means the death of Java," he said."I believe fighting between IBM and Oracle will lead to the end of 'write once, run anywhere'" for Java, Roth said. "There will inevitably be some disagreement between the owner of Java, Oracle, and IBM, [which] has invested billions in the technology. I cannot imagine that IBM would blithely let Oracle determine the future of a technology so embedded in its software stack without a fight. IBM's only recourse will be to fork the code," he added.
Microsoft, Adobe may benefit A main benefactor of Oracle buying Sun is Microsoft, said Tibco's Ranadive. Companies that have had a mixture of Java and Microsoft .Net software might opt for Microsoft now, with questions arising over whether Oracle will keep Java open, he noted.
Oracle also might de-emphasize Sun's JavaFX rich media platform, McAllister said, which could help both Adobe and Microsoft, which offer the competing Silverlight and Flash/Flex technologies. Neither Silverlight nor JavaFX have made huge inroads  among developers.
Java better not be doomed. Without my morning cup I get mighty cranky :)
So where are the Krakatoa jokes?
I would expect that Oracle is having here a good chance at making Weblogic THE Java Application Server and therefore at increasing its market share. Oracle Database could benefit, too, from being first in introduction of new Java features.
I'd also expect that not all Java will be open source - Oracle will likely maintain such status for the core packages and certain others, but will close the packages where they can get a competitive advantage.
I think under Oracle Java EE will see a major push to hurt .Net. I still don’t see how they can make money off it however.
If you Kraka your Toa it will be quite painful. So says the Oracle.
East of Java.
This doesn’t even go into the risks for MySQL, under Oracle.
Java doesn’t threaten Oracle’s primary revenue stream, MySQL does.
Weblogic was THE Application Server even before Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. Oracle owned it since it purchased BEA. I don’t see what additional advantage Oracle gets by acquiring open source technology. I can imagine Oracle crippling MySQL to the point it isn’t a viable alternative any more. But I don’t see Oracle gaining a whole lot from Java.. As one oracle spokesperson said, they are acquiring Sun mostly for their hardware,which could be true after all.
Right. Oracle kills MySQL and acquires a hardware/server division. Java is incidental.
As long as they NEVER charge for Java updates, then I’m OK with it.
Aside from some maintenance of work from other programmers, I've avoided any new work of my own in Java since early 2000. My code is largely ANSI C or C++. It is portable and rarely takes a hit when the next round of GNU C/g++ arrives. As such, I'm sort of ambivalent about what Oracle does with Java. I've written a fair bit of code in C#. In my estimation, it has all the goodness of C++ and Java rolled together while fixing many of the defects in those languages. The "mono" project is doing a fairly decent job of bringing C#/.Net frameworks to Linux. To date, I only run C#/.Net projects as dedicated applications or server side special applications. The coding goes quickly and is debugged rapidly. The performance is satisfactory as well. As for Java, I'll just get some popcorn and watch. I don't have any eggs in that basket.
Moving mySQL does gore my ox. mySQL is all the database I need for most work. I've used Oracle for many commercial applications. There is one thing certain about installing Oracle on a server. If it was fast before Oracle arrived, it will run like a wounded dog once Oracle is installed. It's best to put Oracle on a dedicated server where it isn't destroying the performance of everything else on the server. As a database, it works fine. It's just more expensive than I can justify for research projects with zero revenue. I have very good results using python or C++ library packages to hook my applications to a mySQL database. Hopefully, I won't have to go shopping for an alternative.
Agreed. Java was never that great to start with.
IMO, more underperforming bloatware has been written using Java than all other languages put together.
MySQL is open source as is VirtualBox OSE. Both are released under the GPL. They should be safe but commercial support of MySQL is in question as are binary releases of VirtualBox. Perhaps the open source community can pick up the slack if Oracle chooses to abandon it.
There was an article in WSJ last week discussing this very topic. Oracle is well aware of the vast number of webservers running MySQL. The article speculated that Oracle could bury it or abandon it. They can’t bury it because of the GPL. Either option would piss off a lot of people but as we know, Oracle doesn’t care about that.
Also questionable is OpenSolaris which is Sun’s open sourced version of the Solaris Unix OS.
As far as Java, there are other Java compilers. Blackdown JDK and Jikes come to mind. Kaffe is open source. There are lots of other JDK and JREs. If Oracle plays hardball and starts to charge for Sun Java, there are other alternatives.
>Aside from some maintenance of work from other programmers, I’ve avoided any new work of my own in Java since early 2000. My code is largely ANSI C or C++.
I know what you mean. I’m not a fan of Java at all, a buddy of mine in the CS department and I joke about:
The “moving target” is also something that I disliked, though I didn’t have to be bothered with that too much just being a student.
Regarding the imperative family of languages, I’d much prefer a Wirth-decedent language: Object-Pascal/Delphi, or [arguably] Ada (I haven’t used it much, but the more I learn about it the more I REALLY like some of Ada’s strengths).
On the other hand (meaning the Functional-Programming and Logic-Programming languages), I enjoyed messing with Scheme somewhat (kind of frustrating at times, but what language ISN’T when you’re just learning it>) and [VERY] little Prolog. But I digress, we’re talking about Java and such.
Microsoft has put a lot of effort into .NET lately, especially with the drawing of X-Box developers via XNA, so it is probably the leading competitor for Java right now. (That’s not saying much though, it’s really the only competitor with Java that I know of) which is kind-of sad.
One question that might change things a bit, I think, is if Oracle revived that project to make a CPU whose instruction-set was/is the Java bytecode.
Java has come a loooong way since 1996 ! JRE is pretty standardized now, and in terms of execution speed it’s comparable to C++ and in some cases even slightly better.
I think you were referring to applets earlier, where different versions came over the network and ran on the browser’s JVM. Applets are long gone. Good riddance. They were a real PITA to work with. Today Java exists mostly for server side computing, for which in terms of flexibility, architectural frameworks, integration with third party APIs and packages, available open source tools , it has no equal. Developers have an extremely rich environment to work in. The Java of 2009 is nothing like that of 1996, believe me.
ORACLE always closes everything they touch.
In what cases does java execute faster than C++?
Cuz I aint buying it. Not by a long shot.